By Mr. Edge, 10/12/2018
Seeing is believing. Most of us will agree that nearly everything becomes more personal and believable when seen instead of heard.
Real estate is a good example of this belief. Decisions aren’t often made without seeing a property, and most buyers look at multiple properties before making an offer. But from the seller’s perspective, the task of showing real estate to people who have interest is quite time consuming. Yes, open houses and home tours can help showcase available properties, but they can take significant time out of an agent’s day and be logistically difficult.
In this case—and many others—mobile technology is a natural tool to aid with visualization and efficiency. Our phones are becoming more powerful, especially with the release of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. Mobile networks, too, are becoming more advanced with 4G LTE, 4G LTE Advanced and 4G LTE Plus. This combination of powerful phones and network advancements benefits the end consumer, but there’s a catch. Our applications still lag behind, and potentially most significantly for our real estate example, our browsers cannot handle 360-degree videos.
Yes, desktop browsers and smartphone applications can handle 360-degree videos, but there are problems with both of them. Opening a 360-degree video on a desktop browser is easy to do, but it lacks mobility. You could connect your laptop to a smartphone hotspot (or Wi-Fi if you have access), but mobile networks don’t handle video well (for example downloading an average 15 second 360-degree video is about 110Mbs) which can be annoying due to speed and buffering.
Smartphone applications seem like a perfect solution, but they have conversion problems. The first problem is getting a video of that size onto an application like YouTube that has a 360-degree mobile player. The second problem is getting the end consumer to download the application if they do not have it. Plus, they still need to watch the video. Downloading the application may be an easy conversion, but due to the large size of the file, downloading the file is likely to lead to abandonment.
The real estate property viewing example is one use case where Mobile Edge Computing (MEC) can help. MEC can create a two-fold solution. First, MEC assists with conversions by helping networks deliver the 360-degree video faster which increases the chances that the end consumer will watch the video. Second, it can support edge applications. Edge apps are the next evolution of mobile apps built on the edge of the network and designed to take full advantage of moving app computing and connection closer to the devices they support.
Going back to our real estate example, a real estate edge app could come in many forms and would allow a real estate agent to send out private links to consumers who want to see a property, maximizing their time and showing customers a wider range of properties than would be possible if they were physically going to each location.
360-degree videos will never entirely replace seeing something in-person, but technology like MEC can help it become more accessible and convenient, so we can make smarter, faster decisions. Check back as our team explores more ways MEC can affect our lives—for the better!